Better Sleep Can Improve Eating Habits, and Vice Versa

Better Sleep Can Improve Eating Habits, and Vice Versa

I attended the largest-held food and nutrition conference in the U.S. for the last two years- last year in Philly, and two years ago in D.C. It’s called FNCE, short for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. Both were fully funded by my university’s Student Government Association, and I couldn’t be more grateful for these opportunities. If you have never been to one of these grandiose and usually overwhelming events, you may not know that several rooms host various speakers all the same time. It is the attendee’s responsibility to choose, plan, and navigate each session as the day goes on.

One topic that stood out to me was about sleep and nutrition. We have known for awhile now that 8 hours of sleep is the standard recommendation, but does everyone really know the science behind it and how it relates to our eating habits? I was intrigued, so I added that to my schedule. The session was called “Best of the Rest: Improving Health Through Better Sleep”, and it was presented by Michael A. Grandner, PhD, MTR from the University of Arizona. He was pretty engaging, which my friends and I were thankful for since it was started at 9am on a Sunday.

He introduced the topic by simply defining sleep as a “naturally rhythmic and recurring process with a reduction or lack of consciousness, perceptual disengagement, immobility,  and which is reversible”. Now this process is controlled by two mechanisms: 1) Our sleep drive, and 2) our biological clock, aka circadian rhythm.

Did you know…

when we are awake that our brains accumulate fluid, toxins, and adenosine (a cell by-product from energy production)? Yep! This is our body’s sleep drive. When enough build-up and pressure is present, we grow tired. When we sleep, this is when these fluids, toxins, and adenosine are released. Sleeping is detoxifying for our brains!!!!!

This is such an important fact I think everyone should be made aware of. We tend to glorify those who can function off of less sleep and praise the “hustlers” and “go-getters”, but is the exchange of long-term health for success worth it? That’s kind of a rhetorical and subjectively-pointed question.  What I can tell you is that this presenter made it clear that no matter how well you think you function sleep-deprived, no one is exempt from the health recommendation of getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

The tricky thing is getting enough quality sleep. Many of us think we are getting our suggested 7-9 hours in because we spend that time in bed, but quality sleep takes many things into account:

  • Sleep onset, or how quickly you fall asleep
  • Number of awakenings per night
  • Total sleep time
  • Sleep efficiency

For quality sleep, you should be falling asleep within 20-30 minutes of putting yourself to bed. If you are having a difficult time with this, try turning off any devices 2 hours prior to bedtime, wearing blue-blocking glasses if you absolutely need to have screen time (I just ordered myself a pair), avoid doing anything but sleeping or having sex in the bedroom, and practice going to bed satisfied with food (not hungry, but not too full).

Some foods that have been proven to aid in melatonin production, relaxation and sleep include:

  • tart cherry juice or tart cherries,
  • kiwis
  • foods that contain the amino acid tryptophan (which is a precursor to serotonin, which is a precursor to melatonin- whew! science) Foods with tyrptophan include turkey, seafood, dairy, chicken, nuts, seeds and eggs.

What about melatonin supplements?

Melatonin supplements aren’t typically effective. Our bodies already produce this hormone, so it isn’t necessary to supplement with it. Melatonin supplements can have a minimal effect on sleep quality by timing the dosing right around 8pm, the peak at which natural melatonin reaches a high in the body. When the sun sets, our body’s secrete the most melatonin. This occurs around 8pm on average, so it makes sense why we would have to time our melatonin supplement then- to aid in the amount of melatonin present for sleep support.

Now to return to the other points I made about quality sleep…

The average person wakes up about 30 times a night, but only for a few seconds. Yep. That’s kind of a startling number, right? This is normal, and we typically don’t remember these brief awakenings. What we do want to focus on is the number of times we remember waking up. Since each full sleep cycle entailing the 5 stages of sleep (REM + nREM) takes place in 90 minute intervals, we should be getting about 5-6 cycles in per night. So we shouldn’t be consciously waking up more than 5 times per night, at the maximum.

How long should my naps be?

This was a popular subtopic when the end of the presentation opened up for questions. Dr. Michael Grandner suggested that a person should set their alarm for a 90 minute nap if possible. Why is this? Because this is the duration of a full sleep cycle, which gifts you quality sleep. He acknowledged that everyone does not have the luxury to take a 90 minute nap and that any amount of sleep is better than none.

What’s this talk about circadian rhythm being important?

Circadian rhythm is our body’s internal mechanism of knowing when to wake up and when to sleep. A large component of this is light. When the sun rises, our eyes register this light and release cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that makes us alert, hence, why it is secreted when we rise- to wake us up! It is this reason why coffee first thing in the morning is not suggested- because it is not necessary with our body’s natural way of waking itself up. We just have to give it time. I do not practice what I preach when it comes to this though, simply because I LOVE my caffeine highs. 😉 I must note that if you are having trouble sleeping, you should consider reducing or removing caffeine from your diet. Stimulants and depressants (including alcohol) have shown to disrupt sleep in numerous studies, even when the subject was unaware.

What else does sleep deprivation affect?

  • weight gain- increased appetite
  • (those who sleep less consume 300-500 kcals extra/day)
  • exacerbates chronic disease symptoms
  • adds to inflammation
  • toxins build up in the brain
  • lowers immune responses
  • reduces performance
  • effects mental health
  • can cause behavioral issues
  • can lead to poor decision-making
  • shorter life expectancy

What else can I do to improve my sleep?

Aside from shutting down electronics 2 hours before bed, only using the bedroom to sleep and for sex, and eating or drinking tart cherries, kiwis, tryptophan-rich foods, or taking a melatonin supplement, you can also…

  • drink more water for improved temperature regulation
  • invest in black-out curtains
  • ensure a comfortable sleeping environment
  • engage in regular exercise
  • eat healthy, balanced, and sufficient portion sizes
  • avoid stimulants or depressants
  • maintain healthy relationships to decrease stress.

Summary

Sleep is considered the third pillar of health, next to diet and exercise. It is essential for humans to reset, detoxify, and function properly. A regular schedule and ample amounts of sleep can lengthen one’s expected life span and decrease other health risks, including but not limited to weight gain, chronic disease, and heart issues.

While eating healthy, exercise, and certain food and supplements may help, you should seek help from a professional sleep expert and undergo a sleep study should you still have trouble sleeping. Many suffer from undiagnosed insomnia and sleep apnea, which are serious medical conditions that cannot be helped by lifestyle changes alone.

Resources

American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society

National Sleep Foundation

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

Reference

Grandner, M. (2019). Best of the Rest: Improving Health Through Better Sleep [1-46].

The medical/health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind of medical/health advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITE OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATION IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Roasted Red Pepper Tuna Melts

Roasted Red Pepper Tuna Melts

NEW RECIPE ALERT!

I’ve mainly been posting my recipes on my Instagram feed, but I think it’s time to start sharing the love again on here. Plus, I can begin to compile all of my recipes in one, easy-to-navigate space.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe for these incredible Roasted Red Pepper Tuna Melts JP and I had last night for dinner. I typically use him as my unofficial taste-tester and food critic, and he claims that nothing needs to be changed to perfect this recipe. You can be the judge of that bold statement though. 😉

Roasted Red Pepper Tuna Melts

Prep time: 5-10 minutes                         Cook time: 45 minutes

Yields: 6 sandwiches *Just halve or quarter the ingredients if you want to make less

Ingredients

  • Bread (I used homemade sourdough, but pick up any kind you like!)
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 cans 16 oz. tuna (we used white albacore in water)
  • Organic mayo (you can use reduced-fat, vegan mayo, or even low-sugar Greek yogurt) I do recommend mayo for the taste factor though.
  • Seasoning Salt (got ours from TJs)
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1 jalapeño (can use green pepper or green onion if sensitive)
  • cheese of your choosing (we used pepperjack and JP also had cheddar)
  • OPTIONAL: pickles OR the Dill Pickle Hummus from Trader’s as a spread *drool*, arugula, hot sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Slice red peppers into strips. Toss in 1-2 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes on each side- 40 minutes total.
  4. In the meantime, make your tuna mixture. Drain the tuna cans well. Add the tuna to a large bowl.
  5. Finely chop the red onion and jalapeño. Add to tuna. Measure and add seasoning salt and mayo. Mix until combined.
  6. Assemble sandwiches! I used 2 slices of pepper jack cheese on the bottom slice (added 1 cheddar slice for JP). Then added about 1/3 cup (maybe a little more) of the tuna mix.
  7. Transfer the red pepper strips on top of the tuna. Place top piece of bread.
  8. Toast for 5 minutes in the oven, still at 425F.
  9. Let cool and add any other cold toppings you would like. I HIGHLY recommend the Dill Pickle Hummus if you like pickles.

That’s it! A pretty easy recipe for a fun dinner for 1, 2, 3 or 6! You decide. Please leave comments if you try this out so I know what you think. 🙂 Happy eating!

Mushrooms & Coffee: Better Together?

Mushrooms & Coffee: Better Together?

The History of Mushroom Magic

Mushrooms…in coffee?! Yep. Mushroom coffee has been around since WWII. The people of Finland, like many other countries, experienced a shortage of coffee during the war. And who wants to live without coffee? No one. The answer is no one. So they got creative and started cutting down chaga mushrooms on local birch trees. These trees grew abundantly in the area, as did the mushrooms that look like burnt wood (see below).

Chaga
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus)

So the Finnish had these chaga mushrooms. They soaked and pressed them to essentially steep their medicinal properties without eating them (which you can do by the way). Drinking this chaga “tea” resulted in long-lasting energy. It was similar to the stimulant effects coffee provides, but without the caffeine crash to follow. Many also noticed less stomach upset with increased focus. Once the war ended and coffee became readily available again, the Finnish kept their chaga ritual by mixing the mushroom “tea” in with their regular coffee. This is how mushroom coffee came to be.


Present Day Fun-guys

Today’s mushroom coffee is made from mushroom powders derived from medicinal mushrooms (mainly Chaga, Lion’s Mane, Turkey’s Tail, reishi, and cordyceps) that are then mixed with traditional coffee grounds. See the nutritional breakdown below.

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 1.48.23 PM
Example of nutrition profile. In this case, Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus).

Notice that Lion’s Mane mushroom powder is mostly comprised of carbohydrates and protein. Moisture and fiber content is minimal. Acrylamide is not considered a nutrient, but I included it in this table because it is present in mushroom powders.

Acrylamide is a byproduct produced during the heating process of drying mushrooms to make powder. It is considered a carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance. The FDA tests acrylamide present in foods and approves foods with <20ppm measurements. Mushroom powders are so low in acrylamide, it is either undetectable or in minimal amounts deemed safe by the FDA. 

The state of California does require that mushroom coffee companies, as well as other acrylamide-containing food products, display a warning label on their packaging. Their Proposition 65 law enforces companies disclose chemicals present in their products, including both coffee and mushroom powders separately. 

“WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including acrylamide, which is known to the State of California to cause cancer and lead, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov. “


Don’t Feel Like Mush

Why not just drink coffee then? Sure, a regular cup of Joe gives you an instant boost of energy, but chugging coffee can be followed by an energy crash a couple of hours later. Caffeine can do this- provide a momentary jolt that makes you feel like a superhero, and 2 hours later, leaves you feeling exhausted and defeated. Unlike caffeine, mushroom coffee releases energy slowly due to its polysaccharide makeup that takes longer to break down in the body. The mushroom powders in this coffee are also proven to fight and improve both mental and physical fatigue, avoiding that afternoon crash while uplifting your mind, body, and spirit.


No Cap on Benefits

On top of giving you steady energy, the mushroom powder in this coffee protects your stomach lining against gastrointestinal irritation and bloating coffee can cause. In one study, the Lion’s Mane mushroom showed promise in reducing ulcerative symptoms, guarding the lining of the digestive tract, and fighting against the bacteria H. pylori (which causes infection in your stomach).

The medicinal mushroom powders also contain antioxidants, nutrient parts that fight off free radicals and stress. We can all use a little stress relief in our lives, am I right? In fact, mushrooms are considered adaptogens, which means they are considered a food that helps you adapt to stress.

They are anticancer too, a property we want all of our foods to have and protect us against. If you open my poster project I worked on this entire semester, you will be able to see the charts I made that display Lion’s Mane killing cancer at a 67% effectiveness rate, while Chaga killed all 4 strains of adenocarcinoma (commonly known as lung cancer). Chaga was 100% successful in killing these cancerous cells- amazing! More studies must be done before adding this to preventative and therapeutic treatments.


I Can’t Believe This Shiitake! 

Summary of the top 5 benefits of medicinal mushroom coffee…

  1. Fights mental & physical fatigue
  2. Protects gastrointestinal epithelial lining, limiting stomach irritation and upset
  3. Increases energy levels at a steady pace without the caffeine crash
  4. Is adaptogenic and contains antioxidants that fight stress!
  5. Contains anticancer properties

*You should not consume Chaga if you are currently on blood thinners or about to undergo surgery. Chaga is also not ideal for diabetic patients because it can induce hypoglycemia. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medication should consult with their physician before consuming this mushroom, or any medicinal mushroom/product.


Make ‘Shroom in Your Pantry

Are you interested in trying this alternative to mainstream coffee? Great! There are many companies who specialize in mushroom coffee, the most popular being Four Sigmatic. Their product can be found on their website, Amazon, and in many grocery stores. In grocers, these products may be found in the coffee aisle or by the health supplements. Don’t be shy to ask an employee where they stock their products.

If you find certain brands are more pricey, keep in mind that the medicinal mushrooms are worth the investment. Here is $15 off your first purchase with Four Sigmatic Co. Let me know what you think, and happy sipping this energizing brew! 


 Photo: Mushroom Coffee.; 2017. https://www.health.com/food/mushroom-coffee-trend. Accessed March 18, 2020.

References

  1. Sen M. The Hidden Wartime Origins of Mushroom Coffee. Food52. https://food52.com/blog/18958-the-hidden-wartime-origins-of-mushroom-coffee. Published September 26, 2018. Accessed February 10, 2020. 
  1. Kim SP, Kang MY, Choi YH, Kim JH, Nam SH, Friedman M. Mechanism of Hericium erinaceus (Yamabushitake) mushroom-induced apoptosis of U937 human monocytic leukemia cells.Food & Funct. 2011;2(6):348. doi:10.1039/c1fo10030k.
  1. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food: Individual Food Products. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/food/chemicals/survey-data-acrylamide-food-individual-food-products. Accessed February 7, 2020..
  1. Crawford LM, Kahlon TS, Wang SC, Friedman M. Acrylamide Content of Experimental Flatbreads Prepared from Potato, Quinoa, and Wheat Flours with Added Fruit and Vegetable Peels and Mushroom Powders. Foods. 2019;8(7):228. doi:10.3390/foods8070228. 
  1. Baek J, Roh HS, Baek KH, Lee S, Lee S, Song SS, et al. Bioactivity-based analysis and chemical characterization of cytotoxic constituents from Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) that induce apoptosis in human lung adenocarcinoma cells. JEthnopharmacol. 2018;224:63-75. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2018.05.025.
  1. He, Xirui, et al. “Structures, Biological Activities, and Industrial Applications of the Polysaccharides from Hericium Erinaceus (Lion’s Mane) Mushroom: A Review.” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 97, 2017, pp. 228–237., doi:10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2017.01.040.

 

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Hello, hello! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be back on here and to have the time to dedicate to this blog again. I missed it, as I love developing recipes, talking all things nutrition, and sharing scientific-based knowledge on how to improve your life.

For those of you who don’t follow me on social media or know me in real life, let me introduce myself. I am Danielle Cahalan- a wife, dog mom of two rescue pups, runner, yogi, recipe developer, and nutrition student aspiring to be a Registered Dietitian. Without getting too deep too quickly while still remaining transparent, I must tell you that I struggled with an eating disorder for 15 years. It ran my life for the majority of that time, but throughout my ups and downs, I learned so much about health, well-being (physical, emotional, and mental), and the importance of loving yourself through a solid relationship with food, self-care and wellness rituals, and accepting love and help from those who care about you.

I will continue to be transparent and real with you through this blog- as I am doing it for me, for you, and to provide healthy, yummy, affordable, and easy recipes you can use + lifestyle tips to help elevate your life. I hope you enjoy the content, as my goal is to feed YOU happy!

Canned Salmon Burgers with Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yields: 4 patties (1/2 cup each)

 

Ingredients

Burgers

  • 2- 15oz cans wild salmon
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup ground oats
  • 1 medium jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sprinkle of salt (based of personal taste preference)
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • whole wheat buns

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (recommend organic)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • dash on salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill

Toppings

  • avocado
  • spinach
  • tomato

Directions

  1. Open canned salmon and drain well. Add to medium size bowl and break up chunks. Add egg, ground oats, jalapeño, shallot, and spices. Mix thoroughly.
  2. Form patties with 1/2 cup- should make 4.
  3. Heat electric skillet or large skillet over stovetop to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Place patties in skillet.
  4. Cook 5 minutes on each side, monitoring as to not to burn.
  5. Remove from heat. Let cool. In the meantime, mix ingredients to make dill Greek yogurt sauce.
  6. Assemble burgers with whole wheat burger buns, patties, sauce and toppings. I suggest layering the bottom bun with spinach and avocado slices, spreading the sauce on top of the patty, and adding a tomato or whatever else you fancy! Made a side of chili air-fried sweet potatoes.
  7. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Once again- SO happy to be back! Check back for my grocery list either later today or tomorrow.

Xo- Danielle

How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

How Not to Spread Yourself [or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

Preface

About a year ago, I started a new job. It wasn’t the exact position I wanted or originally applied for at this company, but it was a job in the nutrition field nonetheless. I was excited to get my feet wet and gain experience all while making money and contributing to my family financially. I also registered for two summer classes- Microbiology and Basic Chemistry. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll work my ass off and save over the summer while knocking out a couple of classes”. In addition, I also signed up for a remote summer internship.

Sounds admirable, right? Well, after 3-4 weeks of working and going to class every single day, I came to the unideal conclusion that I had absolutely no time for the internship, let alone a social life or enjoying summer in Chicago with my husband and two pups (the 3 months us natives cherish). Not only did I have little to no free time, but I didn’t have a day off between work, classes, studying and homework for 2 months straight. Being the sensitive person I am, I fell into a deep depression (of which I won’t share the intimate details about, but it was one of the worst bouts I have ever experienced). Having limited time to exercise and partake in self care rituals only exacerbated this dark time in my life. I felt utterly defeated.

At first, I tried my best to internalize these “blues” and normalize my routine. After all, I had been the one to apply for the job and register for classes. It was MY responsibility to see them through and to carry my own weight. I already felt like I failed with throwing in the towel at my internship, so there was no way I was going to say decline additional work shifts or skip class. That just wasn’t an option in my stubborn mind. I stuck this brutal schedule out at the expense of my deteriorating mental health, and even my physical health. The stress had caused me to relapse with my disordered eating patterns. In hindsight, I think it was the only way for me to feel in control at the time. I barely made it through the summer, but when I did, I vowed to NEVER spread myself that thin again.

I added this preface to the article to share my first hand experience, in the hopes of being more relatable, and to let you know that you are not alone. Work addiction, work exhaustion, and work-related stress can be prevented and managed. There is hope. Allow me to help you begin navigating your way to a healthier and happier you while still maintaining success in the office.

How Not to Spread Yourself [Or Your Peanut Butter] Thin

As the title implies, not many people desire to be overworked and undernourished, in any sense of the definitions. This combination can be detrimental to our health, and it is quite unnatural for us as humans to self-induce exhaustion. We need rest and proper nourishment to regenerate and grow, and this starts on a cellular level.

Unfortunately, today’s world (at least in America) instills social pressure to be the most productive, successful in terms of career hierarchy and financial income, and the best at every single thing we do. There are only 24 hours in every day, and there are only 7 days per week…we know this. So how do we keep up with the demands of our families, jobs, and schoolwork while simultaneously enjoying life?

One way to approach this chronic epidemic of overworking is to simply ignore the “norms” of society and ask yourself, “What do I need that I am not receiving?”. If you are a husband, a wife, a mother, or a father, you need to take care of yourself first and foremost in order to optimize your duties as a spouse or parent. Some may call this selfish, but I call it an intelligent plan on action. If the answer to your question is clear, further explore how you can achieve what you so crave. Do you need a little more alone time? Do you need a date night with your significant other? What about indulging in a long lost hobby you no longer make time for? Whatever is missing, figure out how to incorporate that into your life.

Secondly, recognize that we as humans are very similar biologically, but our mental, emotional, social, psychological, and physical thresholds vary. You, and only you, know your true limits, so listen to your body’s cues. Do you feel physically fatigued? Then rest and get some sleep. Do you feel emotionally or mentally drained? Reenergize the best way you know how. Give yourself and your body what it needs and deserves. Only then can you optimally function and perform, in life and at work.

Thirdly, are you participating in self care on a basic level? What I mean by this is are you kindly allowing yourself to drink enough water, get ample sleep, and eat nutritious food (and not only nutritious food, but enough food)? Do you exercise 2-3 times/week? The exercise doesn’t have to be extreme, but movement has been proven to enhance organ function, sharpen clarity and cognitive processes, and improve your mood. Going for a  walk after you eat lunch at work will suffice and get your blood pumping, help you digest the food you just ate, and energize you for the second half of your shift. Another way to ensure health and performance is to eat enough calories in appropriate servings and macronutrient ratios. Don’t fear the fat or carbs! You need both for energy and many other functionalities. I used to stress about eating too much nut butter, but now I simply practice intuitive eating and eat as much damn peanut butter as I my body wants. 😉

A fourth thing to consider is the amount you have on your plate (no pun intended). I am a serial overcommitter, so I am far too familiar with this one. Ask yourself, “What do I want my work/life balance ratio to look like?”. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans work an average of 34.5 hours per week. That is less than most Americans think they work. Work is called work for a reason, and some days and weeks seem longer and more demanding than others. However, after subtracting the time we sleep (I accounted for 8 hours per night- 56) and the average work hours of 34.5/week, we still have 77.5 hours leftover. Sure, many of those hours are reserved for cleaning, doing laundry, running errands, and carting the kids arounds, BUT there are hours the individual takes for granted and doesn’t realize he or she actually has. Do yourself a favor and record what one regular week looks like for you to better assess how you spend your time. Perhaps you can tweak or adjust your activities and productivity after taking a better look. This includes scaling it back if you need to, and accepting that it is OKAY to QUIT anything you’ve previously committed to if it’s affecting your health to any extent!

The last thing I will leave you with is to find your purpose. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that finding purpose in life leads to contentment while focusing on being happy doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. Why you ask? For one, if you put too much pressure on being happy, then you automatically take joy out of the equation and are inadvertently self-sabotaging yourself. Viktor Frankl once said, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” You may or may not agree with this quote, but after reading his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, it clarified the idea of finding purpose before manifesting happiness. Sounds backwards, but trust me that this book makes sense of it all. Many people find purpose in their work, hobby, or as a parent or caregiver. Whatever your purpose is in life, go out and find it- embrace it and don’t lose sight of it.

So let’s review. How can your avoid spreading yourself or your peanut butter too thin?

  1. Figure out what’s missing in your life and make time for it!
  2. Listen to your body’s cues and respond accordingly.
  3. Partake in basic level self care (whatever that means to you). This includes eating as much peanut butter or your idea of indulgent food as your body wants (not what your mind or stress wants).
  4. Figure out your desired work:personal time ratio. Optimize your time.
  5. Find your purpose in life.

As a result of the worst summer of my life, I felt compelled to write this article and help others avoid and manage their work-related stress. I hope these suggestions help make sense of the work demands in America and how we can optimize our time and quality of life while still being successful. Please take care of yourselves- physically, mentally and emotionally. You deserve it, as it’s a basic human right.

XO Danielle

 

Feed Me [Weekly]

Alright everyone, on to week two! As mentioned in week one’s meal plan, I do recommend eating the first meal from each category in one day, as the meal plan is designed to deliver a balance in daily nutrients. I’m already having so much fun creating these plans for you guys, so please feel to make comments or suggestions so I can make this resource the best it can possibly be! I am here to humble myself to my endeavor in acquiring nutrition knowledge and sharing that obtained knowledge with the public in order to lead healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. I’m excited to hear what you think of this upcoming menu!

Breakfast

Spinach Feta Wrap (Similar to but healthier than Starbucks)

Ingredients: Egg whites, fat-free feta, spinach, and whole wheat tortilla wraps *I also add roasted red peppers, but this isn’t necessary or part of the budget.

Recipe: Whisk egg whites (I use two per wrap). Spray sauté pan with cooking spray and cook over low medium heat until just done (it’s easy to overcook eggs- us Americans do it ALL the time, and it results in a rubbery texture). Sauté spinach in 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat until just wilted. Construct wrap with all of the ingredients, rolling the wrap in a burrito style. Microwave for an additional 45 seconds if fresh to melt the cheese and warm the tortilla. You can also toast the wrap if desired. If you choose to freeze these babies for on the go breakfasts, reheat for 2 1/2- 3 minutes in the microwave.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Overnight Oats

Ingredients: Peanut Butter free of additives and low in sugar, rolled oats, almond milk, and cocoa powder. You can also top with dark chocolate chips or chunks or nuts if you want added crunchy texture, and you can add berries if you want a fresh component.

Recipe: Add 1 Tbsp of peanut butter to the bottom of a mason jar. Add 3/4 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup rolled oats, and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Mix well and let sit overnight in the fridge. Enjoy in the am!

Lunch

Kale Farro Salad

Ingredients: *I adjusted the ingredient list to fit within the budget, but feel free to follow the original recipe in the Run Fast. Eat Slow Cookbook!

1 bunch kale, almonds or walnuts (whichever is cheaper or your personal preference), 1 lemon, farro, and parmesan. I also add carrots from time to time.

Turkey Wrap

Ingredients: Whole wheat tortillas, turkey slices, spinach, and dijon mustard.

Recipe: Build your wrap with listed ingredients, which are also used in other recipes!

Dinner

Turkey burger and Sweet Potato Fries

Priced at $2.99, I plan on purchasing the Trader Joe’s frozen turkey burgers. They are a non-GMO product, contain 22g of protein, and feed you for 4 meals! Upon researching this product, I came across a suggestion to fry an egg as a topping. I’m definitely going to try that along with adding extra kale or spinach and most likely a shower of sriracha 😉

As for the sweet potato fries, I use the simple recipe from Run Fast. Eat Slow. They are SOOOO good! I like to dip mine in dijon mustard 🙂

Cauliflower Steak with Green Beans

The Minimalist Baker crafts recipes right with few ingredients that pack the most flavor! I did not include the ingredients for the green chutney in the grocery list, but feel free to make it if you’d like! If you’ve never had cauliflower in any form other than florets, well then, you’re in for a treat with these Cauliflower Steaks! As for the green beans, I suggest steaming them to receive the most nutrients, but you may also sauté them in a little butter and coat with Italian breadcrumbs- yummmmm!

Snacks

Apple+Peanut Butter

These snacks are provided from ingredients in other meal recipes! Had to get creative to stay within the budget! If you’re looking for other healthy snack suggestions, I recommend Greek yogurt, low-fat cheese sticks, and Rx bars- just to name a few.

Almonds

Hard boiled eggs

 

Grocery List

  • Eggs $2
  • Spinach $2.50
  • Fat free feta $2.50
  • Whole Wheat Wrap $2
  • Oats $2.50
  • Almond milk $2
  • Peanut butter $2
  • Cocoa powder $1.50
  • Kale $2.50
  • Walnuts OR Almonds $5
  • 1 lemon $0.50
  • Farro $2
  • Parmesan $2.50
  • 2 apples $1
  • Turkey slices $3
  • Dijon $2
  • Turkey patties $3.50
  • 3 sweet potatoes $3
  • Green beans $2
  • 1 head Cauliflower $2.50
  • Cilantro $2
  • Garlic $2
  • Lime $0.50

Total: $51 if all ingredients are needed.